Soleil, Tour, Aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane), 1913
Oil on canvas
52 x 51 5/8 inches (132.1 x 131.1 cm)
A. Conger Goodyear Fund, 1964
Sun, Tower, Airplane reflects Robert Delaunay’s enthusiasm for the technological developments of the time in which he lived. For him, technology was not the antithesis of nature; he believed they could coexist harmoniously. Thus the sun mentioned in the title suffuses the entire canvas with warm colors and energy surrounding three symbols of technological achievement.
In 1889, the Eiffel Tower, the tallest structure of its time, was erected in Paris for the World’s Fair. Designed by French engineer Alexandre Eiffel, it allowed Parisians to view their city from an exciting new vantage point. Although many people considered it an eyesore, Delaunay was fascinated by the tower and painted it many times. Above, a biplane soars. The Wright brothers had successfully flown the first biplane only ten years before, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The inclusion of the biplane here is homage to French aviator and inventor Louis Blériot, who, in 1909, became the first to fly across the English Channel. At the extreme right is an evocation of the popular carnival ride invented in 1893 by American engineer George Ferris for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Delaunay’s feelings about these technological marvels are reflected in the lively, energetic lines and shapes, and the warm, bright colors. The disk-like forms represented for him the rhythms of the universe and modern consciousness, which included nature, technology, and human beings.
Related Lesson Plan
Technology-Driven Art (For Grades 3–12)
Activities for Families (PDF)
The museum is closed. Please visit us tomorrow between 10 am and 5 pm.
CALL AHEAD TO CONFIRM
Installation information is subject to change. If you are planning to visit the museum to see a specific work of art, please call us first to confirm that it will be on view.
SEARCH OUR FINE ART COLLECTION
The Albright-Knox has more than 6,500 works in its Collection. Search Our Entire Fine Art Collection